336 e-Letters

  • Response to “Clinical Experience Using LVR for Patients with DMD”

    We appreciate Dr. Ganapa and colleagues’ letter in response to our randomized controlled trial of lung volume recruitment (LVR) in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). We wholeheartedly agree that LVR has a critical role in the management of individuals with DMD during acute exacerbations and in individuals with advanced neuromuscular disease, especially in those with respiratory failure. The use of LVR in this context is supported by international clinical care guidelines [1-6] and data which demonstrates improvement in lung function decline and maximum insufflation capacity with routine twice-daily LVR.[7-9]

    In our cohort with relatively preserved lung function (baseline median FVC 84.8%, IQR 73.3, 95.5%), the median age of our group (baseline median 11.5 years, IQR 9.5, 13.5 years) is slightly younger than that described by Dr. Ganapa, in whom routine LVR is initiated. Recent data from the Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group’s Duchenne Natural History Study indicates, however, that peak median FVC occurs at age 17.0-17.9 years in those with glucocorticoid exposure for greater than one year, compared to age 12.0-12.9 years in those not treated with glucocorticoids.[10] Eighty-nine percent of our cohort were treated with systemic steroids, which likely explains why many had normal FVC at baseline and why it was challenging to show improvements in the rate of decline of FVC over two years with LVR treatment.

    Despite the clear benefits of L...

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  • Clinical Experience Using LVR for Patients with DMD

    We thank the authors for their contribution of a RCT of boys with DMD (FVC>60%) with the intervention of active LVR (air stacking) twice daily for two years. In our clinical practice, we have introduced LVR to thousands of patients with ventilatory pump failure and over 300 with DMD. Although we have not found LVR to preserve or improve vital capacity (VC), patients with 0 mL of VC can survive for decades using up to continuous noninvasive ventilatory support (CNVS). On the other hand, improvement of maximum insufflation capacity (MIC) is reported to improve significantly with practice of LVR, although this is also not crucial.1 What is certain is that tachypneic hypercapnic patients with shallow breathing associated with supplemental oxygen therapy often cannot normalize their blood gases by NVS settings until the O2 is discontinued and the patient practices LVR aggressively for several weeks to several months. At that point their lungs become more compliant and delivered air volumes can normalize their blood gases.2,3 Also, ventilator “unweanable” patients who practice air stacking via mouth and/or nose pieces are much easier to extubate to mouthpiece and nasal CNVS than patients who have not practiced this technique.3,4 Further, air stacking can improve peak cough flows (PCF), phonation, and time to swallow food.5 While McKim et al. suggested initiation of air stacking for DMD once VC decreases below 80%, we have usually begun once the absolute plateau VC is reached...

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  • Can airways endothelial-epithelial cooperation stop Covid-19’s march to the lung?

    The state-of-the-art-review by Bridges et al. (1) entitled “Respiratory epithelial responses to SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19” admirably updates current concepts ranging from bedside observations to cell signaling. The authors emphasize epithelial interferon/cytokine defense in upper airways, where infection starts. Advanced Covid-19 is then depicted involving alveolar and capillary injury with uncontrolled leakage of plasma from the pulmonary microcirculation (1).

    The subepithelial microcirculations that carry oxygenized blood to nasal, tracheal, and bronchial mucosae are not mentioned. Yet, infection of these conducting airways causes exudation of plasma proteins with well-known antimicrobial defense capacities. Furthermore, contrasting protein leak at lung injury (1), the airways exudative response reflects well-controlled physiological microvascular-epithelial cooperation (2).

    Minimal size-selectivity at exudation of plasma across endothelial-epithelial barriers.
    Observations in infected airways, allergic disease and mediator challenge demonstrate unfiltered and well-controlled plasma exudation responses in human airways. Lack of size-selectivity means that potent cascade systems (complement, kinin/kallikrein, coagulation) and natural antibodies (IgG,IgM) emerge locally, along with albumin, on engaged airway epithelial sites (3-13). Even cathelicidine, representing antimicrobial peptides, arrives on the affected airway surface exclusively as component of...

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  • Is Telerehabilitation a Realistic Alternative to Centre-based Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

    The benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation for individuals with chronic respiratory diseases are well-documented1, but referral practices and programme completion have remained challenging. This has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and shielding practices. Thus, highlighting the usefulness of developing a robust telerehabilitation programme as a substitute for centre-based programmes. The data gained from Cox et al addresses this area and demonstrates clinically meaningful advantages of telerehabilitation and is warmly welcomed. A detailed breakdown of the costs involved between both arms would be very helpful in assessing an overall equivalence of the two arms.

    The CRQ is a validated tool for use in research; however, the use of its dyspnoea domain specifically has been shown to be less reliable in comparative research2. Other tools which may be a useful substitute for this study would be ‘incremental shuttle walking test’3 and ‘St George’s respiratory questionnaire’4.

    The number of participants presenting to community healthcare services, and/or those requiring rescue therapy for a mild exacerbation (e.g., antibiotics and/or a short course of corticosteroids) not requiring presentation to a hospital, during the study and follow-up period, may be useful for further assessment of the equivalence of telerehabilitation versus centre-based programmes.

    This study provides useful data regarding the potential benefits of incorporating telerehabilita...

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  • Response to “Letter to the Editor on Thomsen, et al. by Moolgavkar and Attanoos”

    We agree with Drs. Moolgavkar and Attanoos that our observation of increased risk of asbestosis unaccompanied by increased risk of mesothelioma among motor vehicle mechanics (Thomsen, 2021) is inconsistent with other studies of chrysotile exposed populations. As we discussed in our paper, mesothelioma ascertainment is highly reliable in Denmark and our mesothelioma findings are consistent with previous studies (DeBono, 2021; Garabrant, 2016; Hessel, 2021; Tomasallo, 2018; Van den Borre, 2015). Thus, we believe our findings are reliable. Conversely, the asbestosis findings raise important questions. A diagnosis of asbestosis can only be made when a clinician believes the patient has been exposed to asbestos. Pulmonary fibrosis in a vehicle mechanic might readily be diagnosed as asbestosis if the clinician was aware of the occupational history and possible presence of asbestos in brakes, clutches, gaskets, or other vehicle parts. Since our comparison subjects held jobs that did not involve obvious asbestos exposure, it is less likely that pulmonary fibrosis would be diagnosed as asbestosis in this group. Moolgavkar and Attanoos suggest that our comparison selection could have led to diagnostic bias if the vehicle mechanics and the comparisons did not have equal probabilities of exposure to asbestos from sources other than friction products. We agree - we reported that the abrupt increase in outpatient clinic diagnosed asbestosis beginning in the mid-2000s is consistent with...

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  • Letter To The Editor on Thomsen et al

    Thomsen et al’s. (2021)1 suggestion that “asbestosis occurs at cumulative chrysotile exposure levels where mesotheliomas are rare or none were observed…”.to explain the increased risk of asbestosis in the absence of an increased risk of mesothelioma among vehicle mechanics appears implausible for many reasons:
    a. Scientific literature shows that when there is a risk of asbestosis there is also an increased risk of pleural mesothelioma2;
    b. Cumulative exposures to chrysotile asbestos sustained by career vehicle mechanics are far below the cumulative asbestos exposures traditionally associated with asbestosis (25 fibre/cc-years) as cited by Thomsen et al.1,3;
    c. That chrysotile asbestos, with much shorter biopersistence than amphibole asbestos, is more fibrogenic is biologically implausible, and inconsistent with the studies that show that the degree of lung fibrosis/asbestosis correlates with retained amphibole asbestos content, not chrysotile 3,4.
    d. Fibre counts amongst vehicle mechanics with mesothelioma have been found to be either within control reference limits or show increased commercial amphibole asbestos, unrelated to friction exposures 2.
    e. Animal studies do not report asbestosis or mesothelioma following high-dose inhalation exposures to brake dust with and without added chrysotile 5.
    We consider, as Thomsen et al 1 did, that the most plausible explanation is diagnostic bias based on control selection.
    In Thomsen et al...

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  • Response to Raja and colleagues

    We thank A. Raja and colleagues for their interest in our article on risk factors for fibrotic-like changes after severe COVID-19 infection (1). We agree that identification and management of post-COVID fibrosis continues to be impeded by the lack of consensus definitions and we look forward to further studies that help describe the natural history of post-COVID pulmonary manifestations.

    The authors propose that lung fibrosis be classified into different ILDs by the pattern of lung parenchymal abnormalities six months after the initial COVID illness has resolved. We agree with the authors that persistent radiographic abnormalities are an adverse outcome of COVID that deserve future study, but we disagree with their proposed classification of patterns. We believe that recognition of fibrotic interstitial lung abnormalities (ILAs), as opposed to non-fibrotic ILAs, help prognosticate which abnormalities are less likely to resolve over time (2). Han et al (3) recently demonstrated that individuals with post-COVID fibrotic ILAs at six months had persistent fibrosis at 1-year, suggesting that fibrotic ILAs rarely resolve completely. Ultimately, serial imaging, quantitative measures of fibrosis (4), and assessment of pharmaceutical interventions (5), will be key to fully understanding the trajectory of post-COVID fibrosis.

    Secondly, the authors report that disease severity did not significantly impact the development of particular parenchymal abnormalities on CT...

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  • Response to Priyadarshi

    We thank Nimmo et al for their comments on our paper, and for recognising that this work
    addresses an important gap in high quality data on aerosol generation and also the technical
    challenges associated with measuring aerosol from the respiratory tract.
    We agree that interparticipant variability in aerosol emission is significant (spanning several orders
    of magnitude) and acknowledge in the paper that interpretation of the data on patients with COVID-
    19 is limited due to the small cohort size. The AERATOR study was the first group to collect detailed
    aerosol measures from patients with active SARS-CoV-2, the aim of this exploratory sub group
    analysis was to consider if active infection had a meaningful impact on the use of healthy controls as
    proxies in the main analysis.
    Measuring aerosol emission from patients with COVID-19 is very challenging in the acute clinical
    setting because of both the very low aerosol background concentration required to make a
    measurement and infection control precautions. We therefore chose to report the raw data while
    acknowledging the difficulties in interpretation.
    In this analysis, we did not perform a sample size calculation; as we were limited by both
    epidemiological (level of COVID-19 infection in the community) and practical challenges, detailed
    Future studies could consider the collection of detailed aerosol measures from patients a...

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    The AERATOR study (Hamilton et al) compares and quantifies the risk of aerosol generation in both healthy patients and those infected with COVID-19 in a variety of contexts, including normal respiration, speaking and coughing, and the same activities whilst receiving therapy with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and high-flow nasal oxygen (HFNO), and also whilst wearing a fluid-resistant surgical mask (FSRM)1. This study is particularly welcome as it is an area where data are scarce, yet the theoretical risks have major implications for both patients and health care professionals and influence recommendations that guide patient care, such as the use of side rooms and personal protective equipment, both of which are limited resources2. However, we have some questions about the study design.

    Hamilton et al demonstrated that the size of aerosols generated by healthy individuals and those infected with COVID-19 were comparable, thereby validating the use of healthy volunteers for aerosol characterisation, though the sample sizes involved within the COVID-19 cohort were relatively small (n=6). Furthermore, the study highlights that aerosolisation was lower in healthy volunteers with non-humidified CPAP, whilst it was increased in those receiving HFNO (though it was shown to originate mostly from the device), compared to baseline for breathing, speaking, and coughing. Given the study also mentions a considerable degree of inter- and intra-individual variability...

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  • View from South East Asia on Post-COVID Fibrotic Lung Disease

    Dear Editor,

    We read with interest McGroder et al’s study on the radiographic findings of patients four months after severe COVID-19 and the associated risk factors. Hürsoy and colleagues’ comment (1) on the paper was equally thought-provoking. We would like to further this discussion by contributing some of our observations from the pulmonology clinic at a major academic medical center in South East Asia.

    It has been tremendously challenging globally to achieve precision in the diagnosis of Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) post-COVID as invasive testing such as lung biopsies are performed sparingly. Histopathological pulmonary findings have largely remained inaccessible since COVID survivors are hypoxic so biopsies pose a high risk for the patient, and healthcare personnels are reluctant to perform such high-risk procedures. Hence, we are left to derive our diagnosis from radiological data and pulmonary function tests (PFTs) of the patient.

    We propose that a consensus definition be reached for the diagnosis of post-COVID ILD, one that incorporates well-accepted radiological terms (used to represent any interstitial lung disease). We recommend that lung fibrosis only be classified as ILD if the lung parenchymal abnormalities persist for a minimum of six months after the COVID infection has resolved. Post-COVID ILD should then be further subclassified based on distinct radiological patterns. In our retrospective cohort study, four patterns of post-COV...

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